The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell by Mark Kurlansky
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The title of The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell is a nod to The Big Apple and could very well be considered a solid stand-alone history of New York itself.
Mark Kurlansky's book titles do not get the reader's blood pumping:
You'd half expect to fall asleep before finishing the intro. But keep pushing on and you'll find a highly enjoyable read filled with interesting facts. Seriously, Kurlansky can make oysters and cod interesting. That's impressive!
The Big Oyster takes us through the history of the oyster, its life cycle, its biology and its importance to mankind.*
That last topic mainly focuses on North America's relationship with the oyster and more specifically New York city's, for Manhattan and this particular shellfish are particularly linked in growth and decline. It doesn't seem to matter if you're a Wall Street fat-cat or a loincloth-wearing native, humans used and abused the little buggers. Though I enjoyed the detailed descriptions of both (with a great section on the "Gangs Of New York" Five Points area), it's the whens, hows, wheres, and what fors that make truly make The Big Oyster a fascinatingly good read!
* FUN FACT: Did you know pearls do not come from oysters?
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